My name is Brandon Neely I served in the United States Army as a Military Police officer from August 2000 until 2005. I deployed multiple times Egypt, Guantanamo, and Iraq. I was working at Guantanamo when the facility opened on January 11th, 2002 I actually escorted the second detainee to arriving at Camp X-Ray that day who was the Australian detainee David Hicks.

A few years ago I decided to break my Non-Disclosure Agreement I signed when I left Guantanamo to tell my side of the story about what went on there and why I believe the facility should be shut down. I reached out the UC Davis Guantanamo Project and told my full story. Since telling my story I have been threatened by the Government, harassed at work, and much more.

I also had the privilege to meet with two former detainees in London as part of a BBC documentary “Guantanamo Reunited” that I once guarded at Guantanamo who like many there where innocent and released without any charge.

A picture to show proof it is me picture

Ask me anything here or on twitter

Comments: 749 • Responses: 57  • Date: 


What was the worst thing you saw while working at Guantanamo?

BrandonNeely520 karma

I took part in and saw a lot of horrible incidents at Guantanamo, but one incident in particular has always stuck with me.

One day, while on duty at Camp X-Ray, I was assigned to escorting duties. I was at the very back of the camp. There was like a big shed there. This was also where the IRF team was stationed at until called upon. On this day the call came for the IRF team to come to Bravo Block. They made their way to the block and, at the time, I was not doing anything, so I made my way down to the block to watch from the outside of the block. The situation on the block was that a detainee had called a female MP "bitch" a couple times. For punishment, the IRF team was called upon to enter the cage and hog-tie the detainee. The female MP was very upset, yelling "Whip his ass!"

The IRF team, along with the camp OIC, approached the detainee's cage and told him to stop yelling and lay down so he could be restrained. The detainee just stood there, staring at them. The IRF team lined up in position to enter the cage. The OIC unlocked the lock on the cage door and, when this was done, the detainee turned around, went to his knees and placed his hands on the top of his head. The lock was taken off and the cage door was opened. The Number One Man on the IRF team tossed his shield to the side and, with a quick run towards the detainee, hopped in the air and came down on the back of the detainee with his knee (the Number One guy on the IRF team was no small guy). This caused the detainee to fall to the cement floor of the cage with the Number One Man on top of him. Then the whole IRF team was on top of him hitting, punching, and kicking him. It seemed like a long time, but in reality it lasted 15-20 seconds.

While the IRF team was still on top of the detainee someone yelled for the female MP that was called a bitch. She entered the cage and she punched the detainee a couple times in the head and then left the cage. Everyone in the cage stood up and the detainee laid there cuffed-up but motionless and unresponsive. Next thing I saw were medics coming from the medical house with a stretcher. They left the block with the detainee on the stretcher; they took him to a waiting military ambulance and was transported to the main hospital. The IRF team would ride along with the detainee. I went back to work not fully knowing what was wrong or what happened to the detainee.

Later that night, after we had been off for a while, the IRF team came back from the hospital. They would go on and talk about how they hit and punched the detainee and how they held him down so the female MP could hit him a couple times. They went on to talk about the ambulance ride saying no one spoke and it was a very silent ride. One of them even stated the detainee went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance. I do not know if this statement is true or not. I know the camp OIC of this incident would joke many times about how he never heard his name and "war crimes" in the same sentence so many times in his life.

Eventually the detainee would return back to the camp from the hospital. About a week or so later I was assigned to work Bravo Block, and the block NCOIC happened to be a member of the IRF team. He was the Number One Man of the day of this incident. When the NCOIC walked onto the block a detainee named Feroz Abbasi yelled "Sergeant, have you come back to finish him off

MichaelBoltonIsGod121 karma

Why do this if it's against the law? I understand getting the truth out, but what about your and your family's lives being impacted. I doubt you want to be the next Snowden.

BrandonNeely707 karma

Because it is the right thing to do hopefully by myself and others speaking out it will help Guantanamo to close and maybe we can change some people’s thoughts on this issue. I took an oath to defend the constitution of the United States and just because I am no longer in uniform doesn't mean I still don't take that oath seriously

Opira112 karma

The courage you show here is inspiring and if more people were like you in positions similar to yours i and would speak up this would not be possible to happen in the first place. The mere fact that the us government or representatives official or unofficial harass you is sad and just say there is something seriously wrong going on.

BrandonNeely188 karma

Thanks for your kind words. By the government threatening me it makes me know that I am doing something right and they are listening to what I am saying all it does is make me want to speak out more and be even that much louder

TheSexyHistorian17 karma

As somebody fascinated by the psychology behind authority and war, this AMA is absolutely priceless. I'm glad that you've come out about the things you saw because it is so important, and it takes a lot of guts to go against orders/a contract. You said that you should have refused orders while you were there, but in that situation no one could blame you for following orders. The amazing thing is that you've come to realize the atrocities and are actually speaking up about it

BrandonNeely63 karma

I have and never will hide behind that saying of "I was just following orders". I knew right from wrong and I chose to take part in what I took part in at the end of the day we each have to be responsible for our own actions. If a time comes when I have to answer for my actions I will do so.

AtomicBunnies151 karma


BrandonNeely134 karma

Thanks for your service as well.

Marylandman101140 karma

did you ever grow to like any of the prisoners?

BrandonNeely385 karma

Honestly, I did one detainee Ruhal Ahmed was the same age as me and spoke English as he was from the UK. The one thing we had in common of all things was music we both listened to Eminem and we would speak of girls and going out etc. I actually meet him years later in London and we are good friends to this day and speak at least once a week he now is married and has 3 kids.

Marylandman101131 karma

really?! wow! That is really interesting. What was he in for?

BrandonNeely268 karma

Him and 2 of his friends where at a wedding in Pakistan and they captured and sold to the Americans for 5,000 dollars a piece

BookwormSkates113 karma

they captured and sold what to the Americans? Or they were captured and sold to the Americans by who? I'm confused.

BrandonNeely251 karma

According to reports roughly 90% of those held at Guantanamo where not even captured by American's the Northern Alliance or the Pakistan Military captured them and then sold them for a bounty ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 the United States.

596031212 karma

This needs to be exposed

BrandonNeely88 karma

It has been exposed it is just the fact that no one seems to care.

Inceptor-Animus110 karma

Did you ever refuse any orders? Please, if you can, elaborate.

BrandonNeely170 karma

No I never refused any orders I should of, but I never did

geezer13100 karma

Is there anything you can't tell us?

I'm not asking you to tell us what that thing is, (i'm hoping someone else will do that for me).

BrandonNeely203 karma

The Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) I signed stated I could not talk to the media, write a book, make a movie, etc. about anything I took part in or witnessed while at Guantanamo. Basically by breaking this NDA I have broken the law and could be prosecuted for it, but it has been years and I don't think they will come after me. Also, there has been other former guards who have spoken out and have been removed from the military for this

ilikescarlet56 karma

Did you talk about any of the worse things with your family? Was thinking of speaking out a popular opinion amongst people who worked there?

BrandonNeely115 karma

I never and still to this day have no spoken to my family about my time in Guantanamo or Iraq. The things my family knows is everything they have read in the media or interview I did on TV over the years. I find it easier to speak with complete strangers about the things I took part in or witnessed then my family.

At the time I was there no one had thought about speaking out, but so many years later there are more former guards against Guantanamo then for I would say, but many are afraid to speak out due to the retaliation one my face

BenlovesBud95 karma

How has the treatment of inmates developed over time ? did it start out normal and turn super shitty, or has it always been super shitty ?

BrandonNeely161 karma

It was supper shitty from day one on January 11, 2002 and it progressively got worst. I have spoken to a lot of Guantanamo guard over the years who served there at different times then I did and they state that the treatment of detainees is still bad. It made look better from the outside then it did 11 years ago, but it is still hell inside

pixstorybear74 karma


BrandonNeely263 karma

I actually volunteered for a deployment and I thought I was going to go to Afghanstain and fight on the front lines and when I found out I was going to Guantanamo to baby sit a bunch of "terrorist" I was pissed. I hated them for what they had done to my country killing 3,000 Americans I wanted revenge for that cowardly attack. I along with everyone else there was told before we got there and everyday before we entered the camp to work "These men held there where the worst of the worst and would kill us and out families in a heart beat". After a few months and taking part and watching the treatment there I came to a conclusion innocent or guilty no one deserves to be treated in the manner we treated those men not only is it inhuman its down right criminal.

I really changed when I saw a lot of detainees being cleared and released due to the fact they were innocent and just detained and sold to us because they were brown, Muslim, and of military age. I believe this country is a lot better then what has and is taken place at Guantanamo we had a great chance to show the world that our justice and legal system was the best in the world, but we dropped the ball and now Guantanamo has become a rallying cry for those that truly do hate us for out freedoms. When countries like Russia and Iran use Guantanamo human rights violations against us and we can't respond there is a serious problem.

You can help by signing the petition to close Guantanamo and just call your local officials and state your case,

bearlybaked70 karma

What kind of backlash from the government are you expecting to receive, if any? Thanks for doing this, it can't be easy being a whistle blower.

BrandonNeely135 karma

Over the years I have been threatened with prosecution from the Government due to the fact I broke a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) I signed stated I could not talk to the media, write a book, make a movie, etc. about anything I took part in or witnessed while at Guantanamo.

Basically by breaking this NDA I have broken the law and could be prosecuted for it, but it has been years and I don't think they will come after me. Also, there has been other former guards who have spoken out and have been removed from the military for this

I have received more harassment and retaliation in the workplace more then anything which is what I was surprised about, but I have learned to live with it nothing will get me to stop talking on this issue.

KillerGorilla37 karma

Out of interest, if you were to write down the things you saw in a diary, and the media stumbled upon it, would this breach the NDA?

BrandonNeely59 karma

I don't believe so, but that is a good question I will have to ask my lawyer this

Salacious-60 karma

Did you ever interact with any Cubans while you were down there, or is the base completely isolated from the surrounding population? How do you feel about the American policy toward Cuba?

I guess that's not what you were expecting questions about, so:

Did you get the chance to talk to or get to know any of the prisoners while you were a guard, or were you ordered or encouraged not to?

BrandonNeely86 karma

I didn't interact with the Cuban as we were restricted to the naval base there, but I do believe we should and need to give Guantanamo back to Cuba.

I did speak to some of the detainees when I worked there at least to the few that spoke English. A few years ago I meet back up with two former detainees who I guarded at Guantanamo for a BBC documentary "Guantanamo Reunited" they were released with no charge as they were innocent as some many at Guantanamo where and are

noshunintended58 karma

Having seen first hand the horrors that go on at Guantanamo, Do you think it is just folks following orders? Or do most of the guards find a sick pleasure in hurting/torturing these people?

BrandonNeely193 karma

I believe the environment breeds a certain type of hate inside those who work there. When you are told everyday before you walk into the camp that everyone there is guilty and they killed 3,000 fellow Americans and would kill you in a heart beat that gets to you and pisses you off. Some units before they go to work everyday at Guantanamo are shown a video of the World Trade Center being hit by the planes what does this do to ones mind?

breakingmad154 karma

is it true they will use peoples fear of spiders and bugs as a method of torture their?

BrandonNeely79 karma

I have heard this from other guard and interrogators I have spoken to over the years or the ones that have spoken out, but I never witnessed this myself

Cripple1342 karma

Can you elaborate on the 'harassment at work' and 'by the government'? What do you currently do? Was this harassment at your current position, or with another company? Has it since stopped? Thanks for doing this!

BrandonNeely118 karma

The government threatened to prosecute me since I broke my NDA that I signed when I left Guantanamo my response to them was ok do what you have to do and I will do the same. I have had individuals from the DOJ just show up at my house and attempt to speak with me among other things.

I was called a terrorist, terrorist sympathizer, traitor among other names and most of this gave from higher ups. I was passed up for promotion my pay raises decreased after all this was found out and I was suspended from work for 3 months pending an investigation into my personal matters away from work. It has stopped slowly, but mostly because I threatened to go public with the harassment in the workplace .

Also I am currently a police officer and this all happened at this place of employment.

MegaDom36 karma

Do you think this is because most police officers are extremely conservative or because the federal government has increased the militarization of police forces? What I mean is why do you think these people hold these absurd views about you? Also, can your superiors be trusted to protect those who they are supposed to serve if they immediately make broad generalizations about people which they demonize them for?

BrandonNeely98 karma

A lot of it I chalk up to individuals being uneducated and misinformed. I have learned over the years if you speak out against something that goes against the government on the scale we have people automatically see you as anti-American or a traitor and its the complete opposite

kylexys39 karma

I once read you were a pro Call of Duty player. What does this involve?

BrandonNeely72 karma

This is true it involves a lot of playing of Call of Duty. The big thing is finding a team you get along with and working together as anything practice makes you better

sharifthechief33 karma

is the cock meat sandwich real?

BrandonNeely37 karma

Yes, but best ate with chesse

joker-boy45631 karma

Why has it not been closed?

BrandonNeely157 karma

I will answer this short and sweett President Obama lost his balls once he took office

sohereitis30 karma

What do you say to the claims of when these prisoners are released, many of them either go back to or become Al Quaeda, Taliban, whatever?

Where do you think they should be housed and tried or let go to?

BrandonNeely76 karma

Those on the far right of politics like to claim that a rate of 27% or higher have went back to fighting or become a true terrorist. This claim is completely false. There have been many independent claims most notably the Seton Hall law school which shows and proves this rate of 27% is exaggerated. In the findings there where individuals on the recidivism list that where never held at Guantanamo, or had been killed in combat and never held at Guantanamo, and the big reason names where on the list is if a detainee had been released and spoke out about his treatment he was put back on this list under he made anti-American comments. The true recidivism rate is around 4 to 6 percent.

Here is my question though how many "true" terrorist have we created by holding innocent men in Guantanamo? How many where not our enemy before being held, but not after 12 years have become our enemy?

Seton Hall Report

cpt_merica28 karma

Why is Guantanamo still open? Are there any legitimate reasons for keeping it open? What would be the alternative to Gitmo?

BrandonNeely104 karma

GTMO is still open because President Obama lost his balls once he was elected it is that simple.

There is no reason to keep GTMO open running the prison camp costs the Pentagon more than $150 million a year -it cost $900,000 for each of the 166 detainees in comparison to 25,000 a year for a federal inmate or 60,000 a year at the "supermax" prison in Colorado that holds domestic terrorists Eric Rudolph and Ted Kaczynski.

The alternative is simple there is 166 detainees remaining over half of those are cleared for release so we release those back to there countries which most are from Yemen. The group of those we know that are truly guilty such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) you bring them in a federal court find them guilty and sentence them. The former prosecutor at Guantanamo Col. Morris Davis stated if we can not find KSM guilty in a federal court we have no reason having a judicial system in this country. This is coming from a man who has seen all the evidence against all these men and who resigned in protest when he saw that a lot of evidence came from the use of torture.

Then there is a small group that the government says that they are not guilty of anything, but they are afraid maybe that after 12 years of detainment that they MAY bring up arms against the United States. We can't hold these men on a MAYBE we are not the future police in the Minority Report we don't know what they may or may not do.

SkrateFlexLife27 karma

I hear the snorkeling at GTMO is phenomenal.

BrandonNeely41 karma

It is and so is the scuba diving

furr_sure23 karma

I heard there's a few fast food chains there now, were there any when you worked there? Also I'd like to know if you saw or dealed with any prisoners that were released/found to be innocent?

BrandonNeely37 karma

There was a McDonalds and a pizza shop when I was there also sometimes we would eat at the bowling alley most of the time we just ate at the chow hall on the base

I am friends with a few former GTMO detainees I went to London to meet back up with two former detainees I guarded at Guantanamo and it was filmed for a documentary Guantanamo Reunited videos are at he bottome

MegaDom19 karma

Thank you so much. You are a true hero. I hope that having a clean conscious will somewhat lessen the pain of your harassment. What finally prompted you to break your silence?

BrandonNeely45 karma

I am not a hero of any sort. I finally decided to speak because I was so pissed I took part in Guantanamo and I was seeing all these detainees getting released and no one listened to them because they figured they were lying. I wanted to give them some validation to their claims of mistreatment.

Overall what pushed me over the top to speak out was one night I was watching the news and Dick Cheney made this comment "In February 2002 Guantanamo was this great place". I was so pissed I threw stuff at the TV I knew he was a liar I was there at that time so I reached out to some lawyers and went from there.

Craftistic12 karma

Odd question but:

With all the NSA stuff going on, are you concerned that this AmA might get you in trouble of some kind ?

BrandonNeely43 karma

No just Google my name I have been public for years and the government already knows my name this I am sure of

damonlds10 karma

I did not believe you until I saw the Pumpkin table runner. I think that is what sold me that you were a legit guard at GITMO.

Personally I was there in 1998. Something about some nice folks from Laos who wanted to come to the states but found their way to GITMO and then deported back to certain death.

Here is my proof

BrandonNeely14 karma

Ha Ha its that GTMO orange that hows you know its real. Just FYI this AMA has been verified you can just Google my name and my military records and pictures are right there for your eyes.

GoggleGeek110 karma

How can other guards be convinced to do what you did? How many of them do you think agree that it should be shut down, but don't have the guts to say anything about it?

BrandonNeely23 karma

There is a great number of guards that are against Guantanamo and I understand why they don't speak publicly about this it changes your life forever. I wish more people would speak out, but I understand and I don't hold it against them.

mahi_197710 karma

Do you have a guilty conscience for not doing more to help people there? For believing the propaganda they were feeding you? I'm not trying to be a dick, sincerely wondering since it seems that you've had a change of heart. Was it difficult to meet the three Brits? The guilt must've been overwhelming, I imagine. Thank you for doing this, it's never to late to change one's mind.

BrandonNeely18 karma

Yes, I live with a lot of guilt everyday it is hard to look in the mirror and know the pain I have caused to other individuals in Guantanamo and Iraq for that. I think at times maybe if I would had said something maybe there wouldn't be 100 plus detainees at Guantanamo on hungry strike at this moment or maybe the ones that have died there would still be a live.

It was very difficult to meet Ruhal and Shafiq no one knew what would happen, but it was the best thing I have ever did and I left London with two more friends then when I arrived there and we still speak to this day very often.

REDDITOR_Cat8 karma

So do you like peanut butter?

BrandonNeely14 karma

Yes I do, but only creamy peanut butter

SuzyQ287 karma

What was it like when they got word Osama was killed

BrandonNeely9 karma

I wasn't there during this time I was already out of the Army during this time.

johnnylogic7 karma

Wow, thank you for doing this, it takes a lot of guts and I respect you for it. You are the true definition of a hero, standing up for what's right, even thought it might put you at risk...thanks so much. My question is, what do you think about torture in an age of nuclear weapons? Do you think it's right to torture someone, for instance, if they might have intelligence to a possible attack on innocent people? Do you think the founding fathers might have reconsidered the fourth amendment in a nuclear age like the one we're living in now? Thanks again for your bravery.

BrandonNeely20 karma

I firmly believe Torture Is A Betrayal Of American Values just as I told Piers Morgan on CNN There is no situation I believe torture should be used if there is one thing we should hold onto in this world its our humanity.

Need_To_Sleep7 karma

How was David Hicks? Do you think he really did anything or was associated with terrorist organisations?

BrandonNeely14 karma

Just a disclaimer I am good friends with David and his wife Aloyisa. I believe David was stupid and put himself in some stupid and bad situations, but I don't believe David was a terrorist. Even Col Morris Davis the prosecutor at Guantanamo stated David should had never been charged with anything.

Ruxini5 karma

I admire your courage! Now, this is an unpleasant question, but I believe that your actions show that you welcome those. It runs in three steps:

1) Do you consider waterboarding torture?

2) Did you ever witness waterboarding / how much would you say it was used?

3) Did you ever partake in the waterboarding of prisoners?

BrandonNeely21 karma

I do consider water boarding torture the United States executed Japanese soldiers who water boarded pilots during World War II. Also during Ronald Regans time as President his administration prosecuted a sheriff and his deputy in Texas for water-boarding a suspect.

I never saw or took part in water boarding

JFSOCC5 karma

why did it take you so long. What would you tell any soldier assigned to the same job you had if you could?

BrandonNeely13 karma

I have no clue why it took so long I wish I had spoken up a lot sooner then I did we all do. I would tell that soldier to do what he or she thinks is right not necessarily what they are told to do if it seems wrong most likely its wrong no matter who is telling its ok.

Ruxini5 karma

Hi there! I'm back with another question. I once had a discussion with /u/moobs_like_jagger who claimed to be an interrogator in the US army. He said that no international laws were being broken at Guantanamo. What do you think of this?

BrandonNeely24 karma

I would tell him if he has nothing to hide then make his self known, but I doubt this is true due to 99% of interrogators at Guantanamo are FBI and other Govt organizations

SkrateFlexLife5 karma

I've actually talked to a lot of soldiers who worked at GTMO. All of them said the prisoners were treated better than soldiers stationed there.

BrandonNeely12 karma

I hope that was true during their time while stationed at the facility.

Talarot5 karma

I believe you don't have enough money to influence Guantanamo bay policy changes.

Does anyone? Probably not.

BrandonNeely16 karma

No one has that kind of money the only thing that may work is pressure from the public

Quoar4 karma

I have no idea how these things work in the US army. How were you chosen/selected to work as a guard in Guantanamo?

BrandonNeely8 karma

I was a military police officer and I volunteered for a deployment and it turned in to Guantanamo no special selection process just MP's

Keelanx2 karma

Can you tell us anything about the secrets if camp 7? I think that's the secret one.

BrandonNeely2 karma

I sure can't that camp came after my time at Guantanamo ended

ih8catsandfun2 karma

as an MP who has served at an overseas detainment facility within the past year, things have changed despite what you hear in the media. The Geneva Convention and care of detainees is STRICTY enforced. Tax dollars fund medical care, dental, and schooling of detainees many of whom are murderers/terrorists. I took an oath. I do not have the luxary of having an opinion.

BrandonNeely1 karma

No opinion? Really you just had one stating many of whom are murderers/terrorists do you have proof of this either way? No I didn't think so. Here is the thing put these guys in court find them guilty sentence them and be done with it. All of these could had been dealt with and done 10 years ago.

qisqisqis1 karma


BrandonNeely4 karma

Just Google me that is all you need follow me on twitter, Youtube, or anything

IDoNotAgreeWithYou0 karma

How about you prove you were actually in Guantanamo? Not just a picture of some smiling dude. Where is your uniform and military id?

BrandonNeely3 karma

Why don't you just google my name and you can see it all

TitusUMMS0 karma

Thanks for volunteering to perpetuate the military-industrial complex, witnessing what a bunch of high school graduates do on a power trip, and then acting damaged when you see the consequences of your choices.

BrandonNeely1 karma

You are welcome

herrsteppenwolf-4 karma

Did you solicit prostitutes in cuba on your off time?

BrandonNeely4 karma

No sorry to disappoint you

EvilTech5150-5 karma

If one of the prisoners asked for a "reach around" while you were patting him down, what would your response be ? :D

BrandonNeely3 karma

"No comment"

Watchful_I-12 karma

So you signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the Government held up their end my paying you / feeding you / protecting you, and you decide to break the contract you signed. Then we are to be proud of this? I am proud of the men and women that are upholding their end of the deal.

BrandonNeely5 karma

Yeah I broke it wanna sue me? Stand in line

Holbac-19 karma

Why do you hate America?

BrandonNeely11 karma

I don't hate America. I don't agree with the policies and the actions of my country, but I love my country that is why I have spoken out and fight so hard to right this huge wrong we are involved in.

I have no problem fighting and dying for this country, but I am not going to kill or be killed for something I don't believe in

Holbac-16 karma

Ok but why do you hate freedom?

BrandonNeely4 karma

What freedom do I hate? I am using my freedom of free speech to voice my opinion on this issues I took part in, but I do not agree with.